You can learn a lot about the amazing world we live in by travelling. You can experience something different, go to places you’ve never been, and then come back and regale your friends and family with tales of far off places and their odd customs and cultures.
If you’re looking to explore travel destinations off the beaten track, the following countries might inspire you.
This eclectic post-Soviet country bordering the Caspian Sea has plenty to offer travellers. You can begin your exploration in Baku, the country’s capital. Here, you can spend hours ogling the stunning modern architecture of the famous Flame Towers, the Heydar Aliyev Center or Baku Crystal Hall. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the fascinating capital, take time to discover Azerbaijan’s various archaeological sites, namely Gobustan and Icheri Sheher (Old City). These reveal a great deal about the culture of these proud people.
If you want a preview of the culture of Azerbaijan, you can catch the Buta Festival, an event held in London from November to March. Nasib Piriyev, Director General of the Festival, decided to organise this five-yearly event to showcase the arts and culture of his country. The Buta Festival is an excellent way to promote Azerbaijan’s culture around the world and to encourage more people to visit the country.
Sandwiched between China and Russia, this rarely visited country was home to the fierce warrior, Genghis Khan. Due to its huge size (about six times the size of the UK), the country remains largely untouched by civilisation. If travelling through vast swathes of uninhibited land, traversing steppes and experiencing authentic nomadic culture is your thing, then Mongolia won’t disappoint.
One of the country’s main attractions is the Gobi Desert. Take a guided tour through South Gobi’s Flaming Cliffs – one of the greatest dinosaur fossil sites in the world – and walk where dinosaurs once roamed. Who knows, you might stumble upon an undiscovered dinosaur fossil during your jaunts.
This country is a naturalist’s paradise. Located off the South Eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is a country of rich biodiversity. It is home to 8,000 unique animal species not found anywhere else in the world.
During your visit, you can spend time hiking through tropical rainforests or basking on the white-sand beaches. Keep an eye out for various species of lemurs, chameleons and birds during your hike. You might also be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the elephant bird – the biggest bird in the world – or even the exotic carnivorous pitcher plant.
Madagascar’s coastline is littered with shipwrecks and makes for great snorkelling or scuba diving. The best time to visit is from April to November, and you might be lucky enough to see the annual solar eclipse in September.
As hordes of tourists descend on Peru and other South American countries, savvy backpackers craving an affordable vacation head to Nicaragua. The country is just getting back to its feet after being mired in decades of civil unrest and is one of the best destinations on the continent.
You can spend your days surfing at San Juan del Sur beach, volcano boarding down Cerro Negro volcano, hiking up Mombacho volcano, or just wandering around Granada taking in the city’s Spanish Colonial-style architecture. A visit to Lake Nicaragua is also worth it, and you can spend time snorkelling or simply basking in the sun.
Such countries that have remained under the tourist radar still have lots of wonderful sights and cultures to offer, and visiting them is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.